Woodward Case: Victory greeted with restraint - Campaigners show quiet respect

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The Independent Online
The rowdy joy of Monday night was replaced by restraint on both sides of the Atlantic yesterday as the Woodward family and their supporters concentrated on showing quiet respect for Matthew Eappen.

With a sense of anger mounting in America over Judge Zobel's decision came the realisation in Britain that cheers and smiles suddenly felt inappropriate.

In Elton, Cheshire, supporters limited their comments to expressions of sympathy for the Eappen family. Jean Jones, the family friend who started a campaign fund with just pounds 22, said she would like any surplus to finance a children's charity in Matthew's name. Last night, with the proceeds exceeding pounds 300,000, it seemed there would be plenty left over.

"I would truly like to see some good come out of this tragedy," she said. "When I said that there are no winners in this case, there haven't been. Perhaps with the help of the money there could be.

"There has been a lot of pain and hurt on both sides. No one thinks badly of the Eappens, no one thinks badly of Louise, it is just a terrible thing that has happened. The Rev Ken Davey, vicar of Ince and Elton, was at pains to point out that the cheers that greeted Louise's sentencing in Boston were not triumphant but "a shout of relief".

"Matthew was placed on our All Souls' Day list and we will continue to think of him and pray for him and his family as we have done since February," he said.

Louise's sister, Vicky, who has remained at home to study psychology at Liverpool University in Chester, also went to ground. Steve Collins, a family friend who has been looking after Louise's younger sister throughout the trial, said the 18 year old is "distraught" and needs some privacy.

She will continue her studies but will stay at the family home until her parents and Louise return, said Mr Collins. He confirmed that no deals had been done with newspapers or television companies.

The restraint over revelations from the family and the fact that the British media is making the running on the story have left American journalists frustrated.

Louise's parents, Gary and Sue, spent much of the trial with two producers from Carlton Television's The Big Story which ran a sympathetic documentary about Louise before the case started. The two producers act like bodyguards, shielding the Woodwards from photographers, and another documentary is expected soon.

American journalists are also frustrated because the deep pockets of the Daily Mail, Hello! magazine or The Sun are likely to buy up access to the family.